Expert-Led Group Tour

Kyrgyzstan & China Group Tour - A Journey along the Silk Road

16 days

from £4,595pp
  • Witness Kyrgyzstan's dramatic landscapes of forested mountains and lush valleys.
  • Discover the incredible wealth of Buddhist cave art found in Dunhuang's Mogao Caves.
  • Visit Xian's extraordinary Terracotta Warriors, built to guard the tomb of China's first emperor.

Journey eastward, by road, rail and air; following the route of the ancient Silk Road. Explore the historic sites that dot one of the world's oldest and most challenging trade routes. 

Begin in Bishkek, settled in the shadows of the imposing Tien Shan Mountains. Traverse this stunning range - obstacles to Silk Road travellers for millennia - and drop down into the deserts of China. Visit the ancient trade hub of Kashgar, then skirt the edge of the magnificent Taklimakan Desert and head towards the vast Turpan Depression. From here - one of the lowest places in the world - travel to the richly decorated Mogao Caves at Dunhuang. End at the Silk Road's eastern terminus, Xian, home to the massed ranks of the famous Terracotta Army.


Travel from the lush mountain scenery of Kyrgyzstan, with its nomadic culture, across the Tien Shan mountains to join the Chinese Silk route through to its origin in Xian.


Accommodation will vary along the route. There are a couple of smaller guesthouses, with private bathrooms, through to larger more sophisticated 4-star hotels in the major towns.  


No, there is no dress code for either country. You should be prepared for possible colder weather when crossing the mountains to warmer/hotter weather in China. You should dress for comfort taking some additional clothes so these can be layered. Good, worn-in shoes are advised. 


All meals are included. These will vary but on the whole, will include Western-style breakfasts and local cuisine in both countries for lunch and dinner. Therefore, you will not need to worry about the 'extreme' dishes you may have read about. 


Our group tours are perfect for solo travellers, as travelling as part of an organised group in faraway places does provide security and peace of mind. We handle all of the arrangements for you and there will be a local tour guide on hand throughout to provide advice and help if needed, as well as the expertise of a Tour expert.

If you are willing to share, we will always do our best to match you up with another solo traveller of the same sex so that you do not have to pay for a single room.

If you would prefer the privacy of your own room and would like this guaranteed, then the single room price supplement will apply.

Departing on:
  • 11th June 2019

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

STARTFINISHPrice Excluding Flights £Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour ExpertStatus 
11th Jun 2019 26th Jun 2019 £ 4,595 £ 950 £ 545 Diana Driscoll Limited
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • Accompanied by Diana Driscoll throughout
  • Accompanied by English speaking local guides
  • Airport transfers
  • All accommodation as detailed in the itinerary
  • All meals mentioned in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees to sites visited
  • Gratuities for local guides, drivers and porters
  • Transport as detailed in the itinerary

what is excluded

  • Drinks with meals
  • International flights
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa


Itinerary at a glance

Collapse all
Day 1

Spend the morning at leisure to rest after your early morning flight.

In the afternoon, you will have a city tour taking in the sites of Bishkek, including, Manas Monument, the main national hero of the Kyrgyz people. Afterwards, take a walking tour around Ala Too Square to watch the ceremony of the changing of the Guard of Honour. Continue onto Independence Monument, see the main governmental buildings, and finish at the Old Square with Parliament House and Lenin's only surviving monument in Central Asia.

The capital of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek was built on a grid system with many tree-lined streets. This approach to city planning has made central Bishkek a pleasant area to explore, with wide boulevards and impressive architecture.

Unusually low and surprisingly flat for the capital of such a mountainous country, Bishkek is still 800 metres above sea level. Almost constantly visible from the streets are the snowy peaks of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too range, which surround the city.

lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Plaza Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 2

Bishkek to Ashu Village
In the morning, proceed to Ashu village in the Chon-Kemin valley, which should take around two and a half hours. En route, you will see the Burana Tower, a monument from the 11th century.

The Chon-Kemin valley is known as one of Kyrgyzstan's most beautiful regions. Its river flow across the Kungei-Ala-Too and Iliysky Ala-Too mountain ranges, stretching over 110 kilometres, with seven lakes in its basin. Here also lies a specially-protected region, Chon-Kemin National Park, a lush natural area brimming with diverse flora and fauna. Forming the sides of the valley are conifer forests, which are home to many varieties of herbs, berries, and mushrooms. Today you can take a light walking tour to Chon-Kemin gorge or relax in the village.

This evening will be spent in a small guest house in Ashu village.

breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Ashu Guesthouse, bed and breakfast

Day 3

Travel from Ashu village to Naryn via Balykchy and Kochkor, a journey of around 300 kilometres, taking five to six hours.

Visit the west coast of Issyk Kul lake and Kochkor village en route.

Kochkor is an excellent place to experience Kyrgyzstan's rural lifestyle. The history of felt carpets 'shyrdaks', a variety of the patterns and their meaning will be explained.

breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Khan-Tengri Guesthouse, bed and breakfast

Day 4

Drive from Naryn to Kashgar via Tash Rabat

Leave Naryn and travel to Tash Rabat, an ancient caravanserai that is around two hours away. Afterwards cross the border from Kyrgyzstan into China, bound for Kashgar. The road cuts through the mighty Tien Shan via the Torugart pass (3,650 metres). The journey to Kashgar will take approximately five hours.

A fabled trading post at the foot of the Pamir Mountains, Kashgar's position gave it huge strategic importance during the Silk Road era. The vast emptiness of the inhospitable Taklimakan desert to the east assured that the city was a welcome sight for travellers from either direction.

Modernity is gradually eating away at Kashgar's history and isolation, but its famous Old Town remains, along with its bustling bazaars that hark back to a time of silk caravans and spice traders.

Travel from Naryn to Kashgar via Tash-Rabat, a journey of around 300 kilometres, taking seven to eight hours, depending on the border crossing.

Morning drive to Tash Rabat, taking around two hours. Tash Rabat served as a fortress for travellers along the Great Silk Road. It was constructed in the 15th century, on the ancient trade route from Central Asia to China, and was a resting place for merchants, ambassadors, travellers and other wanderers. It is the largest structure built of stone from Central Asian architecture of that epoch. It is notable not only for its size and building materials, but also for its special layout, based on perfect symmetry.

Continue towards the Torugart Pass and the Kyrgyz-Chinese border point. After completing customs formalities, drive to Kashgar, a distance of around 170 kilometres, taking around four hours.

Located on a branch of the ancient Silk Road, Naryn is a small city in the remote and mountainous Naryn Oblast (Province). Originally founded as a fortified trading post, Naryn is now the capital of the region. Situated at just over 2,000 metres above sea level, the city is strung along one of the major tributaries to the famous Syr Darya River. A quiet place, Naryn is a good base for visits to nearby sites, such as Song Köl and Tash Rabat.

breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Jingjiang International Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 5

Spend Half a Day Exploring Kashgar
Begin at the Id Kah mosque, the largest mosque in China. Built in the 15th century, it was damaged during the Cultural Revolution, but has since been restored. Shakesimirzha, the medieval ruler of Kashgar, originally constructed the Id Kah to pray for the souls of his deceased relatives.

Afterwards, wander through the Old Town's narrow alleys and visit Handicraft Street, a place packed with demonstrations of the culture and customs of Kashgar. Here local artisans are still hard at work inside the hundreds of workshops and stalls along its length.

Continue to the green-tiled tomb of Apak Khoja, the holiest place in Xinjiang for Sufi Muslims. Located outside Kashgar and built in the 17th century, this shrine houses the remains of five generations of the Apak family, including the revered Apak Khoja.

breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Jingjiang International Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 6

Visit Kashgar's Market
Explore the covered market where carpets, pashminas, brassware, inlaid handled knives, traditional hats, silks and spices are for sale. Many of the goods on sale are little changed since Marco Polo's time and the art of haggling remains an important skill for anyone looking to buy.

Packed during the weekend, when Kashgar's population swells by up to 50,000 people, the market is much quieter on weekdays.

You will be transferred to the train station.

Overnight train from Kashgar to Turpan

In the afternoon, board an overnight train to Turpan. The journey will take approximately 14 hours.

Located on the northern edge of the inhospitable Turpan Depression - the second lowest place on Earth - Turpan is a historic oasis town. Famous for its remarkable 'Karez' irrigation system, the town is fed by a network of wells, connected by underground channels.

The hottest place in China, Turpan is famous for the grapes that grow here. Both its wine and sultanas are popular within China.

breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Overnight train from Kashgar to Turpan.

Day 7

Turpan museum and Jiaohe ancient city
After a short rest at the hotel, visit the Turpan Museum, the second largest museum in Xinjiang. It shows the relics from the Silk Road, mummies from the Astana Graves, silks from the early period of transcontinental trade and funerary objects.

Later, visit Jiaohe ancient city whose ruins date from 1st BC. The city flourished around the 5th century AD and was part of Tang dynasty in 7th AD but was destroyed by the Mongols.

breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Huozhou Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 8

Full Day Tour of Sites around Turpan
Travel to Tuyok village dating back to the 4th century. Now also an Islamic place of pilgrimage, it is most famous for its caves which are carved into the soft dirt and rock of the steep hillside. Decorated with Buddhist murals, over 40 caves have been discovered although they are currently closed to visitors.

Continue on to the important Silk Road trading post of Gaochang, formerly the Uighur capital of Xinjiang.

Finally, visit the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves. Consisting of 57 decorated grottoes spanning 11 centuries, Bezeklik was an important centre for Buddhist worship. Inside are many excellent murals.

breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Huozhou Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 9

Visit the Karez Wells and Emin Minaret
The Karez (meaning well) is a system of underground channels that irrigate the fields with water from the mountains and to which Turpan owes its existence. Constructed over 2,000 years ago they are considered one of ancient China’s great projects. Also visit the Emin Minaret, which built by a local ruler, Emin Hoja, in 1777 has exquisite brick work in an Afghani style.

In the afternoon drive to the train station to catch your bullet train to Dunhuang.

breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at The Silk Road Dunhuang Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 10

Singing Sand Mountains
Head to the Singing Sand Mountains (Mingshan), where desert meets oasis at the Crescent Moon Lake. Continue to the Western 1,000 Buddha caves.

Visit the Mogao Grottoes
The Mogao Grottoes are arguably the best examples of Buddhist cave art in China. It is said that the caves were begun in the fourth century by a monk who had a vision of a thousand Buddhas. He proceeded to carve the first of several hundred caves into the sandstone cliff face. Brought to international attention by the discovery of the so-called 'Library Cave' in the early 20th century, 492 grottoes remain. Inside, there are over 2,000 statues and 45,000 separate murals, whilst up to 50,000 manuscripts were thought to have been stored in the 'Library Cave'.

Meaning 'Blazing Beacon', Dunhuang is an oasis city trapped amidst the mountain-like sand dunes of the Gobi Desert. Out of nowhere, it springs into existence after thousands of miles of emptiness.

Dating back over 4,000 years, Dunhuang became a major stopping point on the Silk Road due to its role as an oasis. Now more famous for its history than its geography, Dunhuang plays host to the UNESCO-recognised Mogao Caves.

Dunhuang County Museum
Later visit the nine-storey White Horse Dagoba and the fascinating Dunhuang County Museum, which contains some of the Tibetan and Chinese artefacts found at the famous Mogao grottoes. These include scriptures, silks, and sacrificial objects.

breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at The Silk Road Dunhuang Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 11

Dunhuang to Jiayuguan
This morning depart for Jiayuguan, a distance of 385 kilometres, taking around five to six hours. Travel through the arid Gansu corridor, offering another opportunity to see some of rural China.

breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Vienna International Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 12

Explore the Overhanging Wall and Jiayuguan Museum
Head out of the city to the see the Overhanging Wall. A walk along it gives fine views of the surrounding area and its emptiness.
Return to Jiayuguan. In the Ming Dynasty Jiayuguan was considered the end of the Great Wall and anybody going beyond it was sure to perish. Today, a magnificently restored fort (originally built in 1372) marks the place and from the ramparts one can see the old wall fading gradually into the desert. Also visit the Jiayuguan Museum, if time allows.

The site of an impressive Ming Dynasty Fortress, Jiayuguan became known as the western end of the Great Wall, marking the furthest reach of the Chinese empire. It was an important Silk Road site, due to the nearby Jiayu Pass, which was a key waypoint on the route from East to West.

Now a pleasant, but relatively unremarkable town, Jiayuguan offers beautiful views of the snow-capped Qilian Mountains on clear days.

Fly Jiayuguan to Xian

breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Grand Dynasty Culture Hotel Xi'an, bed and breakfast

Day 13

The morning is at leisure.

Half Day Sightseeing to The Terracotta Warriors
Stumbled upon by a farmer digging a well in 1974, the 2,000-year-old army of the terracotta warriors is a fascinating record of artistic achievement and a grandiose expression of imperial power. Emperor Qin Shi Huang was the first emperor of the Chinese people and embarked on a series of huge construction projects including the Great Wall. The best preserved of these undertakings is probably the terracotta warriors, interred within the outer wall of the emperor's mausoleum as his eternal imperial guard. The mound of earth which protects his tomb is believed to be studded with precious stones.

Having existed for more than three millennia and been the capital city of 13 dynasties, Xian, formerly Chang'an, is often considered as being at the heart of Chinese civilisation. An ancient trade hub of huge economic importance, Xian was the eastern terminus of the legendary Silk Road.

Xian remains an important city, packed with sites worth visiting and laid out in a neat arrangement. Among these sites, the world-famous Terracotta Army is the highlight, but numerous other historic locations adorn the city.

Big Wild Goose Pagoda
Visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, a famous Buddhist pagoda situated in Da Ci’en Temple (the Temple of Thanksgiving), close to the city centre.

breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Grand Dynasty Culture Hotel Xi'an, bed and breakfast

Day 14

Spend Half a Day Visiting the Great Mosque and Museum
Head to the Great Mosque, one of China's largest and built in a unique Chinese style. Founded in 742 AD, the current layout dates back to the 14th century and contrasts markedly with the Uighur mosques of Xinjiang.

Afterwards, take time to walk through Xian's Muslim neighbourhood, which is visibly very different from other parts of Han-dominated China.

Visit Shaanxi Provincial Museum
The Shaanxi Provincial Museum gives an impressive insight into the region and the many complex factors that have formed the city’s history.

The afternoon is at leisure.

breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Grand Dynasty Culture Hotel Xi'an, bed and breakfast

Day 15

Han Jing Tombs and Museum.
Discovered by road workers in the early 1990's, Han Jing tomb is still under excavation. The terracotta figurines uncovered here are much less imposing (but no less grand) than those of the Army of Terracotta Warriors. The museum houses most of the artefacts excavated from the tomb including examples of male and female warriors, eunuchs, dancers and various farm animals. Walk above the actual burial chambers (which are glassed in to protect the relics).

Fly Xian to Beijing

Beijing is China's capital, and a city of epic proportions. It is a cauldron of history, culture and enterprise. Offering a feast of elaborate and ambitious architecture, world famous landmarks, and culinary delights.

breakfast, lunch box and dinner included.

Day rooms will be provided in a hotel close to the airport to freshen up before your return flight.

Day 16

Day at leisure in Beijing

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Tour Expert

Diana Driscoll

Diana Driscoll
Diana is a leading Islamic world guide and lecturer with an emphasis on Central Asia.

Educated at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, Diana has over 30 years of experience studying and exploring Ancient Near and Middle East history, languages, religion and culture. Her postgraduate research focused on Islamic studies.

Diana continued studying and travelling throughout the Middle East, Central Asia and India during her career as a higher education administrator at Britain's leading universities. Following positions at the University of Bath and within the University of London, she was appointed Director of Education at the British Council in Hong Kong. She lectured at various educational institutions throughout China and East Asia, and during this time, developed an interest in the history of the Silk Road. Her research now covers the history, art & archaeology, cultures and religions covering over 5000 miles of road and 3000 years of history from Rome to Xian and down through the Indian subcontinent.

Today Diana is a lecturer and guide to China, Iran, Central Asia and Mughal India. She regularly gives British Museum gallery talks on the Silk Road, Central Asia and Mughal India.
Enquire about this Expert Led tour:
Speak to a Kyrgyzstan holiday expert:

Group Size:

Min 5 / Max 15

Tour Expert:

Diana Driscoll

Departure Date (S):

  • 11th June 2019 - Guaranteed to run

  • Active - The tour includes some longer walks as this is a cultural and walking holiday, but nothing over 6 hours. The tour will involve visits to a variety of sites throughout the duration of the itinerary and be at an active pace. The journey to Tusheti is on a narrow dirt road through the mountains. Travelling is slow despite the short distance. If you suffer from vertigo please do let us know. 

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